Walt Disney World is a very big place, and there’s a lot to know and learn about it. Whole books have been written about navigating the parks and “Disney property,” which includes everything from tiny “hidden Mickeys” to a baseball stadium and sports complex. Even Disney veterans who have been there dozens of times say they always come away with some new twist or experience. How well do you know the place?
Here are a few fascinating tidbits I’ve picked up over the years…
Just what IS a hidden Mickey? It’s the 3-circle silhouette of the head and ears of Mickey Mouse, disguised and subtly hidden in decor, rock formations, table settings and designs of all sorts throughout the Disney property. Thousands of hidden Mickeys are all around the parks.
Miles of underground tunnels called “utilidors” have been built underneath the theme parks. They not only give staff strategic ways to move around, but space also houses the massive costume departments, cast member break rooms, garbage chutes and more. You can get a peek at this network as part of Disney’s 5-hour “Keys to the Kingdom” behind-the-scenes tour.
A $5 million bargain.
The 48 square miles of Florida swampland that’s now home to Walt Disney World was originally purchased by Walt Disney for $5 million dollars.
A $3.50 bargain
Today’s $100/day ticket prices are a far cry from the daily adult admission when Magic Kingdom first opened in 1971. The original admission price: $3.50.
Always open (almost)
Disney World has closed only three times since the resort opened. The first closure was during Hurricane Floyd in 1999. The second was following the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in 2001, and the third was due to a power failure in 2002.
Those glorious flower beds you’ll see throughout the parks can mysteriously change over from one day to the next. That’s because Disney’s horticulture staff comes in at night or very early in the morning to do planting, replanting and plant care.
Disney gardeners (700 of them) plant more than 3 million flowering plants every year and care for 175,000 trees, 4 million shrubs, 13,000 roses, and 2,000 acres of turfgrass. Most of the key specimen plants and topiaries have duplicate versions in the behind-the-scenes nurseries, ready to move into view in case something bad happens to the original.
Talented as they are, Disney gardeners have been known to spray-paint browning or drought-stressed grass to keep it looking fresh.
Walt Disney wanted Walt Disney World to be as clean as possible, so he mandated that guests should never be more than 30 steps away from a trash can. Look around and see…
Looking for gum?
Don’t bother. You won’t find it sold in Disney parks. See above. Too much of it would end up on walks, stuck under rails, etc.
How about a Pepsi?
You also won’t find Pepsi in Disney parks. Disney has contracted with the Coca-Cola Co., so Coke’s lineup is exclusive. Guests drink more than 50 million helpings of Coke each year at Disney parks.
Watch those sunglasses.
One of the most commonly lost objects in Disney parks is sunglasses. More than 200 pairs of sunglasses are turned into the lost and found department each day at Disney World.
A lot of water.
At 5.7 million gallons, Epcot’s Aquarium of the Seas is the second largest aquarium in the United States. The only place that has it beat is the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta with 10 million gallons.